A Message from Our Minister and President
Yesterday was a low point in history of the United States of America.
A sitting President, after a continuous drumbeat of falsehoods concerning the results of a free and fair election, incited a crowd of his supporters to attack our nation’s Capitol, to disrupt the official counting of the Electoral College ballots, and attempt to hold our government hostage to mob rule. It was an insurrection, an attempted coup we might expect to see happen in an authoritarian regime just about anywhere else – increasingly in too many places around the globe – not in the longest continuous democracy in the world. It sent a disheartening message to the world that looks to American democracy for leadership and support of peaceful transitions of power. For our democratic allies facing right-wing extremism within their own population, it must have been terrifying. Hopefully, it will also be galvanizing.
The attempted coup failed. Congress was able to reconvene at 8pm and complete their work of certifying the election of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris as incoming President and Vice-President of the United States. But how we got there is complicated and troubling. The breach on the Capitol is deeply concerning. Why were the Capitol Police unprepared when the plans were made plain on social media over the past two months? The response of the Capitol Police represents many things: Yes, there was bravery, professionalism, and restraint in dealing with a volatile situation. But the comparison between yesterday and how they responded to Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer, while unsurprising, is especially galling. And what about that volatile situation? Let’s hope it is now plain to all the dangers represented by right-wing militias. Perhaps we can end the charade and call them what they are: domestic terrorists. Finally, a Capitol Police officer was filmed posing for selfies with the Pro-Trump rioters. Footage of Capitol Police seemingly giving up on the barricades designed to block trespassers from entering the Capitol still needs to be evaluated. We know that too many white supremacists and radical militia sympathizers thrive in law enforcement across the country. This malignancy must be rooted out of law enforcement.
Importantly, we don’t want the events of yesterday to overshadow other monumental news of the week. Georgia has had a Senate runoff election of historical proportions in the victories of the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. It was a victory for grass roots organizing, under the leadership of Stacey Abrams energized by Black women. It was a victory for Black voter turnout, which tipped the scales in their favor. It was a victory for diversity as Georgia will send its first Black senator and first Jewish senator to Washington. For those of us who placed hope in Joe Biden to lead the nation out of the hatred and division cultivated during the last four years, his chances of success are greater now that Democrats will have the majority vote in both houses of Congress.
Biden is a seasoned leader with over 47 years in government. He understands the kind of leadership that can create transformative change. He also is the opposite of Trump. He cares about the well-being of our nation and the institutions of democracy. When he says he wants to be a uniter rather than a divider, we take him at his word. We are well aware of the mistakes he has made over the decades, some with devastating consequences. But he has had significant successes too. He has demonstrated the all-too-rare character to admit his mistakes and learn from them. He might be just the right leader for this unique time.
The Trump inspired power play at the Capitol should serve as a wake-up call for the Republican Party. What kind of government do they want? Do they wish to follow Trump down the road to authoritarian rule or do they want to stand by our democracy? Many voiced that the chaos and disorder of the breach of the Capitol was beyond the pale. No elected leader affirmed the violation of our democracy’s sacred space.
We were tested yesterday as a nation and we said no. We are unwilling to go down the road to violent revolution. The rule of law was affirmed. For that let us be extremely glad.
May we continue to turn away from the violence and extremism that have been building throughout this president’s term of office. May this be a new beginning of leadership in Washington that will be about doing the people’s business serving the many needs and crises at our doorstep. We still must get through this pandemic. We still must keep the economy going and protect workers and small business owners. We are well positioned to invest in a Green New Deal to put us on track to mitigate some of the terrible effects coming because of climate change. All of us, from our leaders in the highest office, to our representatives at every level of state and local government, to the residents and businesses in our communities, to the members and friends of our congregation, should work as never before to make sure Black Lives Matter.
Let us hope the Trump era is over. Better days are ahead. May we be vigilant to make this so.
— Rev. Sam and Patti Jo